House approves union concessions deal

Keith M. Phaneuf /

Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, discusses union concessions deal on House floor

Updated with final vote at 8:50 p.m.

The House of Representatives on Monday narrowly approved the state employees’ concessions deal that is expected to save as much as $1.57 billion this fiscal year and next combined.

The Democrat-controlled House voted 78-72 almost entirely along party lines to endorse the deal.

The concessions package, which workers ratified earlier this month, tentatively is scheduled to go before the Senate on July 31.

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republican leaders objected to Monday’s vote. They argued that nonpartisan analysts — who hadn’t received all documentation from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration until last Friday — were unable to conduct a full review.

And a national public policy think-tank weighed in on the concessions. The Pew Charitable Trusts urged Connecticut officials to complement the package with new policies to measure public-sector benefits here against those in other states, and to safeguard against future fiscal crises in these programs.

‘This is structural change’

“You wanted structural change? This is structural change,” Rep. Mike D’Agostino, D-Hamden, said during the debate, echoing a term GOP lawmakers have invoked repeatedly in recent years when discussing the need to cut labor costs. “This deal saves billions.”

D’Agostino, who introduced the concessions deal on the House floor, added he believes this plan is the only way to achieve major labor costs savings this fiscal year and next.

You cannot make those changes unilaterally,” he said, adding that any attempt to do so would come to a bad end. “We are sued … and we lose.”

D’Agostino also said the concessions deal is the linchpin to any plan that could break the gridlock that has carried state government more than three weeks into the new fiscal year without an approved budget.

“This domino falls, I…

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